Kremlin critic Alexey Navalny was taken in police custody Monday in Russia for 30 days pending further hearings.
He was arrested the night before at a Moscow airport, after spending several months in Germany recovering from a suspected poisoning attack, which he attributes to Russian authorities.
Western powers have called on Russia to release Navalny, accused by authorities of breaking the terms of a 2014 suspended sentence. Navalny says the embezzlement charges linked to the case were politically motivated.
Here are some of the key events in his saga to date:
Aug 20, 2020 – Navalny is hospitalized in the Siberian city of Omsk after falling ill and losing consciousness on a flight over Siberia. Navalny’s spokeswoman says he was poisoned, possibly from a cup of tea he drank before take off from Bogashevo airport in Tomsk, but Russian medics treating him say they haven’t found “No trace” in his blood or urine.
Aug 22, 2020 – Navalny is flown to Charite Hospital in the German capital, Berlin, for treatment. The Russian medical team treating him had initially refused the move before releasing him later. German medics say their tests indicate Navalny was poisoned.
September 2, 2020 – German officials say there is “unequivocal evidence” that Navalny was poisoned with a nerve agent Novichok, a chemical weapon from the Soviet era. Chancellor Angela Merkel said Navalny was the victim of an attempted murder, adding that there were “serious questions which only the Russian government can and must answer”. International calls for an investigation into the mounting of the incident.
September 3, 2020 – The Kremlin rejects claims, including those from Navalny’s team, that Moscow was the source of the poisoning.
September 4, 2020 – A Russian toxicologist said Navalny’s health may have deteriorated due to diet, stress or fatigue, insisting that no poisons were found in his body.
September 7, 2020 – German doctors say Navalny has recovered from an induced coma.
September 11-13 – Russia holds local elections in which Navalny’s allies make gains in Siberian cities.
September 14, 2020 – Laboratories in France and Sweden confirm Germany’s findings that Navalny was poisoned with a nerve agent Novichok. French President Emmanuel Macron urges Putin to shed light on the “attempted murder”, but the Russian leader only condemns the “unfounded” accusations.
September 15, 2020 – Navalny posts an Instagram message saying he is able to breathe unaided, appearing with his wife Yulia and two children, sitting in bed looking gaunt.
September 17, 2020 – Navalny collaborators say they discovered traces of Novichok on a bottle taken from the hotel in Siberia where he stayed before he fell ill.
September 21, 2020 – Navalny says Western labs have found traces of Novichok in and on his body, and he’s asking Moscow to return his clothes from the day he fell ill.
September 22, 2020 – Navalny is released from hospital and medics say “full recovery is possible”. The Kremlin said Navalny was welcome to return to Moscow, while his spokesperson said Russia froze his assets while he was in a coma.
October 1, 2020 – Navalny accuses Putin of being the source of his poisoning and says he will not give the Russian president the pleasure of being in exile. Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov accuses Navalny of working for the CIA and qualifies his claims as “baseless and unacceptable”.
December 14, 2020 – Citing theft records and geolocation data from cellphones, the investigation website Bellingcat and Russian media outlet The Insider are publishing the results of a joint investigation into the alleged Navalny poisoning. In cooperation with Der Spiegel and CNN, and backed by Navalny, they claim to have identified a team of assassins from the FSB’s Russian security service who had been tracking him for years. He appoints intelligence agents and poison control labs who he says were behind the operation.
December 21, 2020 – Navalny posts a recording of him appearing to cheat an FSB agent into confessing that he attempted to kill him by putting poison in his underwear. The FSB denounces the video clip of the phone call as “false”.
December 28, 2020 – The Russian Prison Service gives Navalny a last minute ultimatum, telling him to return from Germany immediately and report to an office in Moscow the next morning. The prison service advises Navalny that he will be jailed if he returns after the deadline. Navalny’s spokeswoman said it was impossible for him to return in time, adding that he was still recovering from his poisoning and accuses the prison service of acting on the orders of the Kremlin.
January 12, 2021 – Court documents reveal that a Russian judge was asked to jail Navalny in absentia for, among other offenses, violating the terms of a suspended sentence he was serving.
January 13, 2021 – Navalny posts a video on Instagram announcing her intention to return home to Russia. “It was never a question of whether to come back or not. Simply because I never left. I ended up in Germany after arriving in an intensive care unit for a reason: they tried to kill me, ”he says.
January 17, 2021 – Navalny returns to Russia from Germany. He was detained shortly after landing at Sheremetyevo Airport in Moscow. The arrest provokes the condemnation of several European and world powers and a chorus of calls for his immediate release.
January 18, 2021 – A Russian judge has returned Navalny to remand for 30 days for violating the terms of his suspended prison sentence during a hastily organized hearing at a police station on the outskirts of Moscow. Navalny is urging the Russians to take to the streets to protest over this decision. “Don’t be afraid, take to the streets. Don’t go out for me, go out for yourself and your future, ”he said in a video posted to social media.